MCSE 2012 after years of neglect

teknologikalteknologikal Member Posts: 12 ■□□□□□□□□□
Feeling a bit overwhelmed. I was just laid off after being an IT Manager\Desktop Support\Systems Admin and everything in between. We had a network engineer who did most of the backend work. I was responsible for all 1st and 2nd level support, AD and Exchange accounts, groups, etc., File\Print Servers, etc. Managed VMware View as well. Few other systems. I don't have any certifications.

I honestly don't want to spend the rest of my life doing desktop support (even though I really like fixing client issues). I am beginning to study for MCSE, but I am realizing that I don't know crap. And because of that I am feeling really frustrated. I have a lab, plenty of software, videos, books, etc., for training. I am in no rush so I am going to take plenty of time to get this right.

I don't even care about certification, to be honest with you all. I am more interested in learning how it all works. Most of my knowledge came from on the job training and figuring out how to do things that way.

My problem is that I am feeling overwhelmed by the amount of things I have to learn. I am 38 so I am not too old, but I am not 18 either, so my brain is not as sharp it used to be. I am not being pessimistic, but just feeling like I have to be a rocket scientist to learn all this. Am I just too negative? Is this just a matter of reading, watching videos, and practicing in my lab? Is it just a matter of time? May be I am answering my own questions, but I am curious if anyone out there has also felt this overwhelming feeling that there is so much to learn that makes their had explode. I am not working yet so I have plenty of time to study. How many hours should I study per day (until I start working)? I don't have any learning disabilities or anything, but I am not 100% natural at this. Sometimes it takes me longer to understand some of these concepts. I know a few friends who went from desktop support o MCSE, to CCNA, to CCIE in less than 5 years and are making insane money. Either they were very natural at this or just hard workers. I am a hard worker, but I am just not as geeky as they are.

Anyway, any thoughts about all the above would be greatly appreciated



  • gespensterngespenstern Member Posts: 1,243 ■■■■■■■□□□
    Just persistence. You don't have to be that smart. A few hours each day and eventually you'll be there after some time.

    I recently read an article on the internet about memorizing things. A psychology professor with colleagues decided to check how many random decimal digits a typical person can memorize. Usually a typical person can memorize 5-8 digits and that's it. Could a person be trained to memorize higher numbers?

    Experiment lasted for a few years and in the end that typical random person ended up memorizing series of completely random strings of digits up to 82 digits max. And the author says that there was nothing special here besides paying attention to how your brain memorizes things, working on practicing and enhancing this ability.

    I'm 40 now and nothing in my life contributed more to a decent success I have than persistence. You just read and practice each day and eventually you'll be there if you really want it and ready to devote your time for this. Keyword to search online is "deliberate practice".
  • NorrisMcWherterNorrisMcWherter Member Posts: 13 ■□□□□□□□□□
    You have my sympathies, as I am/have been in exactly the same boat and the same age. I did SMB level work for years, and regret it now as the pay sucked, and it was always the same 10-15 procedures most days. Having kids has focussed me to try and earn more money with my time. With a young family and having to work full time, I'm trying to cram studying in every night and weekends to get to where I need to be (7 certs in 18 months so far). It's tough, very tough, but I will slow down soon, once I have what I regard as the "basics", the CCNA, MCSA 2012R2, and the VCP-DCV. Once I have those 3 certs, I can take the foot off the gas a bit, and think about what to specialise in and be doing other relevant certs ie Netapp, exchange etc.

    For me, the certs aren't just about getting a pay rise, but mainly for confidence. I shied away from Server/Corp network based work for years as I didn't think I was "techie" enough, and was intimidated by the guys who'd made it talking down to me. What a mistake. I now realise I can do the work no problem, but I find doing the certs helps "fill in the gaps" a bit, and I've found it really helps my confidence in conversations with non-techies, or project managers for example.

    Keep going, especially in the beginning few months when nothing seems to stick, and it's so easy to just pack it in. Once the knowledge ball in your head gets rolling, you'll find the information starts to stick that bit easier as you study more, and all the subjects regularly interlap each other, which helps.

    Apologies for the ramble, it's reassuring to know it's not just me busting my ass to try and get somewhere. Go for it!
  • teknologikalteknologikal Member Posts: 12 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Thank you Gents. Really appreciate these words of wisdom!
    I am just going to take it one chapter at a time. I have all the resources I need. Until I find a new job, I have plenty of free time to study and I am in rush, to be honest with you. One day, one chapter, one video, one lab at a time. I am just beating myself up for not doing this 10 years ago. I've been in IT for 15 freaking years. I cannot believe I've not done at least some of the hard work already. But the past is the past and there is no need to worry about the future. As my wife always says, " Everything will work itself out, you just have to put in your best effort "

    I have Mark Minasi's 2012 book. I love Mark and learned so much from him. I also have my VCP, View, and other books. Plenty of TrainSignal and CBT videos. There is also ton of videos on YouTube. TechNet is always there, of course. So I am starting today. Going to make out a plan and see what I can about changing my life.

    I guess one question: What do you recommend I do in terms of the path? What I mean is that before (old MCSE) there would be a book for each test. I would read that one book, study up, take that exam. That's how I got my MCP 4.0 a million years ago. How do I do it now? I have this one amazing book that covers everything. I have videos and my lab. I am going to be studying everything and not just the objective for the first exam. Do I read the whole thing, view all the views, do all the labs, and then go back and study for the exam, or is there a better approach?

    Thank you Thank you Thank you again!
  • daviddwsdaviddws MCSA x2, MCITP, CIOS, CSIS, CNIP, CSSS, CLNP MCTS, MTA, MCP,  ITILv3, LPIC-1, VCA-WM, SCLA, CTS,  Member Posts: 303 ■■■□□□□□□□
    First off sorry to hear about the layoff. I've been through that a couple times and its no fun. Having said that, all you need to do at this point is focus on one exam at a time. You have the right approach with using labs, reading, training videos and practice exams. Using those four methods will hopefully solidify the knowledge you will need to pass each exam. Also all of us have started from ground zero and I can see how the amount of certifications some of us hold can look daunting, but really its one step at a time. Good luck!
    Master of Information Systems Management
    M.B.A: Master of Business Administration
  • illmortalizedillmortalized Member Posts: 21 ■□□□□□□□□□
    My rule of thumb, at least 1 chapter a day, preferably 5 chapters total a day. Presuming the books you're reading are giving you instructions on how to perform a task.

    The amount of books just for:

    Server 2012 R2
    Active Directory

    Feels overwhelming to me. But I try to focus on each subject individually, one at a time.

    I'm sure there's going to be other roles I will be adding (Exchange and MSSQL for example) that I will also need to get books on. But again, I can only focus on one subject at a time or I will be all over the place.

    Edit: I'm also using Mastering Server 2012 R2 ;)
  • jfmcaninchjfmcaninch Member Posts: 54 ■■□□□□□□□□
    I am reading the mastering book cover to cover before writing the 410 exam. Then I will focus on 410 Labs and Powershell commands using Technet as I go along. Someone has posted the mastering book chapter breakdown for the 410 exam in another thread a while back for those interested in the massive book but don't want to read cover to cover before writing the 410.
    Currently studying for 70-410 hoping to write June 2016 with end goal of MCSE:Server Infrastructure
  • mjnk77mjnk77 Member Posts: 164 ■■■□□□□□□□
    I always enjoyed watching certain videos more so than reading. It helps me grasp certain concepts a little better. And doing the labs. I'll PM you.
  • powerfoolpowerfool Senior Member Member Posts: 1,649 ■■■■■■■■□□
    If you are laid off, does your state offer any sort of training to help you get back to employment? If so, maybe taking a course would be beneficial. Also, many of the MCSA courses are taught as classes at community colleges, now. So, if you are not in a hurry, that is also an affordable option (maybe even covered by your state or some financial aid). I took a class my first go around because I felt somewhat intimidated by the process. After I knocked out my first exam, I was good to go and never really turn to courses unless I lacked motivation (for instance, my boss wanted me to learn Sharepoint, I had no desire... I requested and was approved for a course).
    AZ-204 [ ] AZ-400 [X] AZ-500
    2020 Goals: Azure Developer Associate, Azure DevOps Expert, Azure Security Associate
  • Louie1277Louie1277 Member Posts: 505 ■■■□□□□□□□
    I have to agree don't worry about your age. I'm 42 years old and still trying to pass this exam. it's been some time studying but with family and work i have little time to study. Just keep pushing and like someone said you could train yourself. That's what I been doing.

    daviddws I like your idea of studying. I'm going to try that today. At work i now have a lot of free time so I will start studying more.

    jfmcaninch I posted the break down on the book when i first was looking into this book. I will see if I could find my post and repost it again on this thread.

    July 29th I'm taking my exam.. Giving myself at least a little over a month 1/2 to study. Just need to motivation and push to get started. Been feeling lazy and tried. (Brain tried)
    2018 Goals: 70-410 [X], 70-411 [],70-412 [] :bow: 410- Passed!!!!!!

    My Goal for the Future
    2012 - *MCSA*(WHO KNOWS WHEN) KEEP FAILING!!!! Not enough time to pass the last 2 exams.
    2021 - *Security+*
    2022 - * Pen Tester*
  • DojiscalperDojiscalper Member Posts: 266 ■■□□□□□□□□
    I'm the same, 37 never had to get certs doing field service, but I want to get a admin job somewhere and am hoping certs will help. So far I've been studying the 70-410 for six months with family and work in the way. I've worked with the technology for years but studying to take a test is the hard part to me.
  • teknologikalteknologikal Member Posts: 12 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Thank you everyone. I am just totally overwhelmed. I realized how much I don't know and I am just completely confused how I survived all this time working in IT? I wasn't a failure and was able to keep my jobs for a long time. I was good at troubleshooting, learning new things, supporting user, etc. etc. etc. And now I am looking at some books, even Windows 7 Administration books, and I am getting super depressed about it. I am starting to study like crazy. I think it's my only solution right now. Just feeling a little overwhelmed and burned out
  • tmtextmtex Member Posts: 326
    Basically same situation. I am 45, done it all more desktop/server/telco guy. Had a good job, recruited to be a service desk manager at 6 figures, 2.9 yrs later I was laid off(last June) do to company merger. Place I left has no openings. I couldn't get a level 1 helpdesk job, yet didn't have the typical 5 yrs of managerial experience. MANY shut the door on me because I didn't have the A+. Now I am working at a place(Contract) that's month to month.

    One day some guy contacted me about getting my certs for free. I was like BS but had nothing to do so went along with it because it wasn't a far drive. Turns out it was some Work Force Improvement Act. Meaning the Gov't will pay for your training which is all run out of your local unemployment agency. You have to meet certain criteria which I did. Since its the government, it started off as a slow process. So far I have the ITIL and A+ however still haven't landed any job, mainly because I ask for to much money LOL, plus I suck on interviews. I lost many jobs at what is DNS ? Domain name service....ah NO system. What is active directory...... umm the brain of the network, yes I said that LOL. Know the basic terms of a network. You might not know how to set it up but what is a router. Knowing what it is does will do wonders, doesn't mean you have to know how to configure it.
    I went threw everything over the last few months and refreshed myself. Now all I need to do is see companies start hiring.. Its all entry level in my area.
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